Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan eBook

Franklin Hiram King
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan.

M. Randot has estimated the annual crop of wild silk cocoons in Szechwan at 10,180,000 pounds, although in the opinion of Alexander Hosie much of this may come from Kweichow.  Richard places the export of raw wild silk from the whole of China proper, in 1904, at 4,400,000 pounds.  This would mean not less than 75,300,000 pounds of wild cocoons and may be less than half the home consumption.

From data collected by Alexander Hosie it appears that in 1899 the export of raw tussur silk from Manchuria, through the port of Newchwang by steamer alone, was 1,862,448 pounds, valued at $1,721,200, and the production is increasing rapidly.  The export from the same port the previous year, by steamer, was 1,046,704 pounds.  This all comes from the hilly and mountain lands south of Mukden, lying between the Liao plain on the west and the Yalu river on the east, covering some five thousand square miles, which we crossed on the Antung-Mukden railway.

There are two broods of these wild silkworms each season, between early May and early October.  Cocoons of the fall brood are kept through the winter and when the moths come forth they are caused to lay their eggs on pieces of cloth and when the worms are hatched they are fed until the first moult upon the succulent new oak leaves gathered from the hills, after which the worms are taken to the low oak growth on the hills where they feed themselves and spin their cocoons under the cover of leaves drawn about them.

The moths reserved from the first brood, after becoming fertile, are tied by means of threads to the oak bushes where they deposit the eggs which produce the second crop of tussur silk.  To maintain an abundance of succulent leaves within reach the oaks are periodically cut back.

Thus these plain people, patient, frugal, unshrinking from toil, the basic units of three of the oldest nations, go to the uncultivated hill lands and from the wild oak and the millions of insects which they help to feed upon it, not only create a valuable export trade but procure material for clothing, fuel, fertilizer and food, for the large chrysalides, cooked in the reeling of the silk, may be eaten at once or are seasoned with sauce to be used later.  Besides this, the last unreelable portion of each cocoon is laid aside to be manufactured into silk wadding and into soft mattresses for caskets upon which the wealthy lay their dead.



The cultivation of tea in China and Japan is another of the great industries of these nations, taking rank with that of sericulture, if not above it, in the important part it plays in the welfare of the people.  There is little reason to doubt that the industry has its foundation in the need of something to render boiled water palatable for drinking purposes.  The drinking of boiled water has been universally adopted in these countries as an individually available, thoroughly efficient and safe guard against that class of deadly disease germs which it has been almost impossible to exclude from the drinking water of any densely peopled country.

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Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.